The operating room was dim, but Javier preferred it that way. He could see well enough as he placed the medical equipment in the spot assigned to it. The doctors and nurses at Presbyterian Hospital (heck, any hospital) were very particular about the positioning of equipment. Seconds were often crucial in OR, and no one wanted to tell Mrs. McKenzie that her husband had passed away suddenly but couldn’t be revived because the defibrillator had been put away in the wrong spot.
Javier was in charge of OR cleanups because he was careful. Every box of gauze, every scalpel, every monitor was back in the proper place when he was done. He had been working at Pres for ten years now, and liked it much better than his previous job at Our Lady of Mercy. Too many priests and nuns around there, all of them decked out in their work clothes.
Presbyterian was much more ecumenical. You could walk through the halls here at Pres for years and not see anything resembling a religious artifact.
Javier had righted a fallen tray table and was about to go out to the hallway to fetch his mop and bucket when he saw the small blue basin, seemingly tossed carelessly in the corner. It must have fallen off of the table. Maybe the tray had been knocked over by a nurse in a hurry, or a tech carrying the patient out following surgery. The circumstances were unimportant, the tray was what mattered.
It lay forgotten, inside was a medium sized puddle of blood. Some of the blood had splashed up the side of the basin, and a few drops were splattered on the wall, but Javier ignored them. His interest was in the basin, which had retained almost all of the blood.
He licked his lips.
These were the times he waited for. The reason he was working here. He knew the Hazmat procedures backwards and forwards, knew about the proper disposal of biohazardous material. And no one ever complained about Javier’s work. The OR was always left spotless when he was finished with it.
He slowly lifted the basin. It was a relic from years past. Blue porcelain containing rich, red blood.
His lips parted to allow his tongue to snake out, slowly running along the rim to catch the splatters, which were not even dried yet. He tipped the basin, watching with anticipation as the blood flowed ever so slowly towards him. Just slightly congealed. Perfect!
His eyes closed as the blood flowed over the edge. His adam’s apple bobbed and a low moan escaped. He swallowed until the flow slowed, then tipped the basin further to lick along the inside surface until the blue porcelain gleamed with his saliva. He quickly examined the bowl to be certain he had not missed a drop before depositing it along with the other pieces destined for sterilization.
The few droplets on the wall were quickly taken care of with a bleach soaked rag. Javier had already taken quite a risk by feeding out in the open. He would have a tough time keeping his job if someone happened to walk by the OR and saw an orderly licking the walls. Very difficult to explain that one.
Javier smiled as he wheeled his cart outside to grab the mop and bucket. This was why he loved working in a hospital. He knew he would never starve.
Nick Contor was born in 1968, which explains all the protests. He has managed to survive thus far and writes things down occasionally in southern New Mexico, pausing now and again to eat, sleep and enjoy life with his wife and two children. This is his first published story.